05 Nov 2021

05 Nov 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal SE.

Drone-based magnetic and multispectral surveys to develop a 3D model for mineral exploration at Qullissat, Disko Island, Greenland

Robert Jackisch1,a, Björn Henning Heincke2, Robert Zimmermann1,b, Erik Vest Sørensen2, Markku Pirttijärvi3, Moritz Kirsch1, Heikki Salmirinne4, Stefanie Lode5, Urpo Kuronen6, and Richard Gloaguen1 Robert Jackisch et al.
  • 1Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology, Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, Freiberg, 09599, Germany
  • 2Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Copenhagen, 1350, Denmark
  • 3Radai Oy, Oulu, 90590, Finland
  • 4Geological Survey of Finland, Rovaniemi, 96100, Finland
  • 5Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, 7031, Norway
  • 6Bluejay Mining Plc, London, W1F0JH, England
  • anow at: Technical University Berlin, Berlin, 10623, Germany
  • bnow at: G.U.B. Ingenieur AG, Freiberg, 09599, Germany

Abstract. Mineral exploration in the West Greenland flood basalt province is attractive because of its resemblance to the magmatic sulphide-rich deposit in the Russian Norilsk region, but it is challenged by rugged topography and partly poor exposure for relevant geologic formations. On northern Disko Island, previous exploration efforts have identified rare native iron occurrences and a high potential for Ni-Cu-Co-PGE-Au mineralization. However, Quaternary landslide activity has obliterated rock exposure at many places at lower elevations. To augment prospecting field work under these challenging conditions, we acquire high-resolution magnetic and optical remote sensing data using drones in the Qullissat area. From the data, we generate a detailed 3D model of a mineralized basalt unit, belonging to the Asuk Member (Mb) of the Palaeocene Vaigat formation.

A wide range of legacy data and newly acquired geo- and petrophysical, as well as geochemical-mineralogical measurements form the basis of an integrated geological interpretation of the unoccupied aerial system (UAS) surveys. In this context, magnetic data aims to define the location and the shape of the buried magmatic body, and to estimate if its magnetic properties are indicative for mineralization. High-resolution UAS-based multispectral orthomosaics are used to identify surficial iron staining, which serve as a proxy for outcropping sulphide mineralization. In addition, high-resolution UAS-based digital surface models are created for geomorphological characterisation of the landscape to accurately reveal landslide features.

UAS-based magnetic data suggests that the targeted magmatic unit is characterized by a pattern of distinct positive and negative magnetic anomalies. We apply a 3D magnetization vector inversion model (MVI) on the UAS-based magnetic data to estimate the magnetic properties and shape of the magmatic body. By means of using constraints in the inversion, (1) optical UAS-based data and legacy drill cores are used to assign significant magnetic properties to areas that are associated with the mineralized Asuk Mb, and (2) the Earth’s magnetic and the paleomagnetic field directions are used to evaluate the general magnetization direction in the magmatic units.

Our results indicate that the geometry of the mineralized target can be estimated as a horizontal sheet of constant thickness, and that the magnetization of the unit has a strong remanent component formed during a period of Earth’s magnetic field reversal. The magnetization values obtained in the MVI are in a similar range as the measured ones from a drillcore intersecting the targeted unit. Both the magnetics and topography confirm that parts of the target unit were displaced by landslides. We identified several fully detached and presumably rotated blocks in the obtained model. The model highlights magnetic anomalies that correspond to zones of mineralization and is used to identify outcrops for sampling.

Our study demonstrates the potential and efficiency of using multi-sensor high-resolution UAS data to constrain the geometry of partially exposed geological units and assist exploration targeting in difficult, poorly exposed terrain.

Robert Jackisch et al.

Status: open (until 07 Jan 2022)

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Robert Jackisch et al.

Robert Jackisch et al.


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Short summary
We integrate UAS-based magnetic and remote sensing mineral exploration data with legacy exploration data of a Ni-Cu-PGE prospect on Disko Island, West Greenland. The basalt unit has a complex magnetization, and we use a 3D magnetic vector inversion on the UAS magnetics to estimate magnetic properties and spatial dimensions of the mineralized unit. Our 3D modelling reveals a horizontal sheet and a strong remanent magnetization component. We highlight the advantage of UAS in rugged terrain.